Home » Down With The Virtual!
How did we ever get stuck with this misleading and maddening misnomer, “virtual reality.” Surely it’s a phrase popularized by people who aren’t fully cognizant of the fact that virtuality is the stuff that life is made of. Take clothes for example. Here “virtual reality” sheds light on that other misnomer, “real life.” There is no need at all for clothes in a place like Second Life. The avatar does not need to be protected from the elements, which, arguable, is the only “real” function of clothes. Yet fashion design is huge here. It differs from fashion design elsewhere only in being obviously unnecessary. But the fact is that it’s part of the way in which people, aka, avatars, shape their identities. In this people shuttle back and forth between their worlds and clothes are central to their identity everywhere. Where ever humans congregate they create and at the same time cloak their identities via clothing. Are clothes any less “real” because they are the costumes people wear when they go on stage? “All the world’s a stage,” wrote Shakespeare, “and all the men and women merely players.” Those lines were written long before the phrase “virtual reality” reinforced the myth that the roles we play are not real. But Shakespeare got it. Which is why his plays and poems are as real as anything else that constitutes the human. So, I repeat, “Down with the virtual.”